Vitor Belfort vows to retire after next fight: It’s ‘too much for my body’

After suffering his third consecutive TKO loss at UFC Fight Night 106, Belfort announced that his next fight would be his last. Vitor Belfort is the original MMA phenom. The 39-year-old has been competing in the sport since 1996 and has developed a reputation as one of the all-time greats.
Belfort broke onto the scene when he demolished Tank Abbott at UFC 13 with his trademark lightening fast hands and quickly became known as the most feared striker in the sport. The Brazilian captured multiple world titles — including the UFC light heavyweight championship — and almost became the first man to stop Jon Jones in the Octagon with a vicious armbar at UFC 152.
With those historic accomplishments comes heavy fight mileage, and Belfort is really starting to feel the toll on his body.
‘The Phenom’ lost to surging middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum last night at UFC Fight Night Fortaleza, succumbing to a barrage of strikes in the first round. It’s Belfort’s third stoppage loss in a row, and the MMA pioneer announced at the post-fight press conference that his next fight would be his last.
“Yes,” Belfort said when asked if he will retire after his next fight in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro at UFC 212, per MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz. “Unless they create this legends’ division, then we can continue a little longer. But training for five-round fights is too much for the body. I was in great shape, but he connected some good strikes and it was his night.”
Belfort, who turns 40 on April 1, showed flashes of the old Phenom in the opening minutes, putting the 25-year-old Gastelum on the back foot with a series of combinations. But the deterioration of reflexes and timing that comes with age became apparent when Gastelum started teeing off at will.
“I was well prepared, my team worked hard,” Belfort said. “It’s frustrating because I was well until one moment, I was confident I was going to get the knockout, and it was the opposite. But that’s it. We need to reinvent ourselves. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. I mean, I hope it’s the last.”
The former UFC heavyweight tournament winner has had over 14 surgeries throughout his career and admits that his body is in too much pain to be continuing at the elite level of mixed martial arts.
“It’s time to end this chapter as a professional fighter,” he said said. “My body is not the same anymore for training. It’s too much pain. I did more than 14 surgeries. I left everything in the Octagon. I’m sad because I didn’t give the win to my fellow Brazilians, but it happens.”
When asked who he would like to fight in his retirement bout, Belfort said it would have to be someone ‘special’.
“I don’t have any names off the top of my head,” Belfort said. “I just don’t want to fight a Brazilian in Brazil. We have to sit down with the UFC and see which opponent would be an interesting fight. I never turned down fights, always fought the toughest ones in the division, but the last fight has to be special for the fans. Let’s see if that’s possible.”
Belfort is hoping to fight one last time at UFC 212, which will take place in his hometown of Rio at the Jeunesse Arena on June 3.

Source: bloody

Tyron Woodley: People who say I’m a boring fighter don’t have ‘long-term memory’

To those saying he’s a boring fighter, Tyron Woodley is channeling Roy Jones Jr. — Y’all Must Have Forgot.

Woodley retained his UFC welterweight title against Stephen Thompson via majority decision at UFC 209 last weekend in a bout that was plagued with large periods of inactivity. “The Chosen One” acknowledges that it was not the most exciting fight, but is calling for those who have labeled him as boring to check his résumé.

“People can say, ‘Oh, he’s a boring fighter,’” Woodley told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “How many guys have I knocked out? Think about the Carlos Condit fight, the Dong Hyun Kim fight, the Robbie Lawler fight, the Jay Hieron fight, the Josh Koscheck fight. Even the last fight with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Everything that people said about me, I’ve proven wrong. But nobody has that long-term memory. Everybody is like Dory from ‘Finding Nemo.’”

Woodley (17-3-1), who has not lost since 2014, does have a point, of course. He has 11 finishes in 17 career victories. His fight with Thompson at UFC 205 back in November, a majority draw, was Fight of the Night. Woodley knocked out Lawler in the first round at UFC 201 last August to win the welterweight title. He won Performance of the Night against Kim in 2014 and Knockout of the Night against Koscheck in 2013.

With that said, Woodley didn’t think this fight with Thompson was a barn burner. But he also found it to be successful, as he was able to suppress Thompson’s dynamic, karate-based striking and pull off the victory. Woodley also nearly finished Thompson in the fifth round, though he knows he had more chances that he did not take.

“The look on my face after the fight wasn’t because I thought I lost,” Woodley said. “I expected myself to do better. It really wasn’t a terrible fight. I wouldn’t give myself a C, I’d give myself an A. But the fight itself, I could have forced more flurries. I could have forced more interactions.

“I was a little bit frustrated with myself, because I saw some opportunities and I didn’t seize the moment.”

Woodley, 34, believes it takes two to tango and doesn’t feel like Thompson was pushing the action, either. Both men had long bouts of not throwing or landing any strikes, especially in the first two rounds.

“How is the entire world, ‘Oh, Tyron was circling?’” Woodley said. “OK, well maybe I don’t want to go in there and just get countered when it’s hard to get in on a long opponent who is just waiting on you to come and attack because he doesn’t want to come in and close the gap.”

It wasn’t the kind of exciting finish that the UFC wants out of its fighters, but Woodley believes he should be pushed more as a star. The Ferguson, Mo., native thinks the UFC can do a better job to promote him, which he has been saying often for the last few months.

“You gotta know me to promote me,” Woodleys aid. “You can’t just promote a fighter. I believe the UFC should promote stories, they should promote lifestyles, they should promote what it took for that person to be in the Octagon. Because it took something for all of us to be here. And that’s how you get the fans behind you, that’s how you get them to stay behind you. Not just a fight.

“I feel like I’m the guy that they can make a star, that’s already doing everything for them. There’s not much more you need to do.”

The future for Woodley is unclear at this moment. He’s about to film a movie with the welterweight contender picture very much in flux. Demian Maia faces Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 on May 13 in what could be a title eliminator. Woodley, for his part, would prefer a bigger money fight, like one against Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre or Michael Bisping.

More than anything, he’s just happy to be done with Thompson, who he called “annoying” to prepare for, because he had to bring in karate fighters to spar with the last two training camps.

Even though it wasn’t a heard-turning performance at UFC 209, the strategy worked and Woodley remains the UFC champ.

“Every fight can’t be this frickin’ Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez fight,” Woodley said. “Or Doo Ho Choi vs. Cub Swanson. Every fight is not gonna be that way. At the end of the day, the goal is to be the world champion and keep the belt as long as you can and have this reign and career.”

Source: mmafighting

Gastelum on GSP vs Bisping: What’s the point of having contenders or rankings?

Kelvin Gastelum isn’t a fan of Georges St-Pierre vs Michael Bisping. Fresh off his impressive TKO finish of Vitor Belfort, Kelvin Gastelum called out Anderson Silva in a bout that he thinks could push him higher in the middleweight division.
“(Anderson Silva is) a big name, he’s another legend, and he’s ranked above me, and I want to keep moving up the rankings,” Gastelum said on the post-fight press conference. And I want the fight that will eventually lead me to a title shot.”
Interestingly enough, while Gastelum wants these bouts to improve his ranking and get to the top, he has also been vocal about the Georges St-Pierre vs Michael Bisping title bout being “unfair” for the division.
“What’s the point of having contenders? What’s the point of having rankings if we’re not going to follow the rankings, or we’re not going to the number 1 contenders?” he said. “It just doesn’t make any sense. Now everybody wants those big money fights, and it just doesn’t make any sense to have any rankings if we’re going to keep doing that stuff.”
It’s not just Gastelum who has been vocal against St-Pierre landing a title shot upon his return. Even UFC commentator Joe Rogan voiced his issues with one of the greatest of all time receiving a title shot. Bisping, who is set to receive his biggest paycheck ever when he faces St-Pierre, has recently responded to people’s criticism of the match up.
Source: bloody

Shogun Rua vs. Gian Villante full fight video highlights

Watch Shogun Rua vs. Gian Villante full fight video highlights from UFC Fight Night 106’s co-main event above, courtesy of FOX Sports.

UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum took place March 11 at the Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (25-10) collided against Gian Villante (15-8) in the night’s co-main event, which aired live on FOX Sports 1. Catch the video highlights above.

For more on Rua vs. Villante, check out the live blog thanks to MMA Fighting’s Chuck Mindenhall.

Round 1: Co-main event time — see if Shogun can make it three in a row. The referee for this one is Mario Yamasaki, who throws out his hand-heart tribute. Rua took an extra…

Source: mmafighting

UFC Fortaleza: Belfort vs. Gastelum – Winners and Losers

UFC Fortaleza is in the record books as there were more ‘Winners’ than there were ‘Losers.’ UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum saw mixed results for the veterans in the main and co-main events. Vitor Belfort fell to strikes in the first round of his main event matchup with young gun Kelvin Gastelum, but Mauricio Rua turned back the hands of time with his third round finish of Gian Villante. Edson Barboza picked up a highlight win over Beneil Dariush to solidify his spot atop the UFC’s lightweight division. Check out the real winners and losers of UFC Fortaleza:
Winners:
Paulo Borrachinha: Borrachinha wasted no time getting his first win inside of the UFC Octagon, as he absolutely mauled Garreth McLellan in a swift 1:17. The UFC newcomer made a statement in his promotional debut as he moves to 9-0 in his professional career. It should be noted that Borrachinha has finished each of his opponents, and has yet to see a second round. How far will the 25 year-old Brazilian go in the UFC’s middleweight division?
Michel Prazeres: Prazeres was involved in 7-straight decisions heading into UFC Fight night 106, so achieving a finish was the forefront of the gameplan. The Brazilian immediately stormed the castle of Josh Burkman, landing big punches with bad intentions. Burkman was ultimately put on his back, where Prazeres transitioned to North-South to find the choke. The first round stoppage marks Prazeres’ first finish since his Jungle Fight days back in 2012, as the Brazilian moves to 22-2.
Joe Soto: Soto lost a lot of blood at UFC Fortaleza. Despite spilling his DNA all over the canvas, Soto beat the #14 ranked Rani Yahya, and even out-grappled the grappler in the third round. Soto just might crack the Top 15.
Kevin Lee: Lee earned his second-straight Rear-Naked Choke submission against the #11 ranked Francisco Trinaldo. Lee overcame early adversity in the first round, as Trinaldo wobbled him with an overhand left. “The Motown Phenom” rocked his opponent with a head kick, which resulted in Trinaldo unsuccessfully shooting in, leading to Lee finding the back. This makes 4-straight wins for Kevin Lee, and should land the lightweight somewhere inside of the Top 15. Lee made the most of his post-fight, in-the-cage interview by calling out the #1 ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Alex Oliveira: “Cowboy” Oliveira had a strong showing in his rematch with Tim Means, as he picked up a second round submission by way of Rear-Naked Choke. Oliveira scored multiple takedowns throughout the fight, showing that he is built for the welterweight division. Having only lost 1 out of his last 8 UFC bouts, “Cowboy” has a ton of momentum behind him, as he looks to settle in at 170 pounds.
Edson Barboza: Barboza proved his Top 5 worth with a sensational second round stoppage of the #9 ranked Beneil Dariush. Barboza was eating more left hands than he wanted to in the first round, but a well-timed flying knee rendered his opponent unconscious in the second frame. Barboza has now won 3-straight in the lightweight division, including victories over Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. With current UFC lightweight king Conor McGregor looking to box Floyd Mayweather, a title shot may not be in the immediate future, however Barboza solidified his spot at the top of the 155 division.
Mauricio Rua: Shogun showed up for the UFC Fortaleza co-main event, as the UFC’s #6 ranked light heavyweight dispatched the #12 ranked Gian Villante with strikes in the third round. Rua has now racked up 3-straight wins, as the 35 year-old with 35 pro fights just might be heading to the Top 5.
Kelvin Gastelum: Gastelum picked up another huge win as he put down Vitor Belfort with strikes in the first round. After some highly publicized weight cutting issues, Gastelum seems to have settled in to the UFC’s middleweight division. Coming in ranked #10 and dispatching the #9 ranked Belfort, expect gastelum to move up just a tad in the division, but will be in a position for a potential big-name match with the #7 ranked Anderson Silva.
Losers:
Garreth McLellan: McLellan never had a chance to implement a gameplan of his own before getting thumped by Borrachinha in just 1:17 of the first round. The TKO loss moved McLellan to 1-4 in his UFC career, which could put the South African’s promotional employment in jeopardy.
Rani Yahya: Yahya gassed out in the second round, possibly due to the plethora of botched takedowns. Despite the ample blood loss from Soto, the #14 ranked bantamweight was unable to capitalize on his injured opposition. Most known for his stout grappling ability, the fatigued Yahya spent the bulk of the final round on his back, as Soto was all over him on the ground. This poor showing could bump Yahya outside of the Top 15.
Josh Burkman: Burkman was ran over by Michel Prazeres in a brief 1:42 submission loss. Prazeres had Burkman on the ropes from jump street, before taking the veteran to ground and choking him out. Having won just 2 out of his last 9, Burkman almost walked away from the sport, as he left his UFC in the cage following the first-round loss. Will Burkman bounce back from his 3-fight losing skid, and will that take place inside of the UFC promotion?
Vitor Belfort: Belfort started his professional MMA career in 1996, but in 2017, “The Phenom” has found himself on a 3-fight losing spree. To make matters worse, Belfort was (T)KO’d in 3 of his last 4 outings. With 1 fight remaining on his UFC contract, the end of Belfort’s lengthy two-decade career is on the horizon. What will be next for “The Phenom?”
Source: bloody

Click Debate: Why is there such a disconnect between fighters and athletic commissions?

Dominick Cruz, one of the best fighters of all time in his division, was on color commentary for UFC 209 last weekend. The former bantamweight champion is so diligent in his second job as a broadcaster that he actually attended media day to interview fighters, so he could correctly get across their stories to the viewers on television and pay-per-view.

One of the things Cruz said during the event, though, was somewhat surprising from a sporting perspective. In discussing rules changes in MMA, particularly new language for judging, Cruz says he wasn’t exactly sure what actions constituted winning rounds anymore.

“And I’m a fighter,” Cruz said.

Imagine LeBron James saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know what’s a 3-pointer anymore — and I’m a basketball player.” Cruz was saying he is not clear on how to actually win at his sport. That seems unimaginable. But he’s not alone; in fact, he’s the majority.

This is no knock on Cruz or on fighters. While more could be done from a fighter’s perspective to seek out information from athletic commissions and promoters, it’s certainly not mostly on them.

For too long, commissions have been intentionally opaque, letting things go unsaid and uncorrected. Every time I hear a commentator refer to “three points of contact,” I slap my hand against my forehead. That is and has never been the rule for a grounded fighter. But it has been said over and over again by broadcasters, so now it has become the narrative from the perspective of fans, fighters and coaches.

Last year, Tim Means admitted to not knowing the rule for a grounded fighter when he nailed Alex Oliveira with a pair of illegal knees. Oliveira had both knees on the ground — clearly a grounded fighter by rule. The rule, before it was changed by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC), was that anything other than the soles of the feet on the floor makes for a grounded fighter. Even under the new rules (and I’ll get to those in a bit), a knee down means a fighter is down.

Means didn’t know, though. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan and UFC regulatory head Marc Ratner also got it wrong on the broadcast, saying Means’ knees were legal. Rogan corrected himself after speaking to legendary referee John McCarthy moments later. Luckily, referee Dan Miragliotta was on top of it and made the correct call that the blows were illegal.

No commission issued a written explanation, though. Nor did the ABC. So confusion remains. The knee-jerk reaction is always that the referee or judge is incompetent. Even when that’s not the case, that becomes the narrative because of a lack of education.

The same thing has happened over the years with scoring. The words “Octagon control” and “aggression” have been repeated so many times by broadcasters that a lot of fans and fighters believe those are the ways you win rounds. They’re not — not under the old rules or the new rules. Effective striking/grappling is the primary determination. The other two are only tiebreakers, when effective striking/grappling is completely equal. Effective aggression is the first tiebreaker and cage control is the second.

Commissions and the ABC need to do a better job of educating fighters, especially. And those doing play-by-play and analysis on television should get more up to speed on rules and judging. It was only last year that the UFC added to its scoring introduction on broadcasts that the three criteria were used in order, from effective striking/grappling on down.

Now more than ever, education is needed. Because there is a lot of confusion between the old rules and new rules, which many commissions have yet to adopt. There was a lack of understanding even before there was an alteration to the Unified Rules of MMA. Believe it or not, it has gotten worse — shocking, right?

ABC president Mike Mazzulli has done well in his two years leading the overseeing body, though is in a precarious position because state commissions do not have to follow the ABC. The organization is more of a handshake agreement than anything else. State governments still ultimately decide their respective rules.

But what the ABC can do is control the education and understanding of rules and scoring. Mazzulli installed Sean Wheelock as chairman of the new MMA rules and regulations committee, which recommended the package of rules changes that got passed last year. Maybe the next step is adopting a committee of fighters — 10 athletes who will be in direct communication with the ABC, other committees and commissions.

Fighters need more of a voice when it comes to athletic commissions, which manager Alex Davis wrote about recently for MMAjunkie. Randy Couture, Matt Hughes and Jeremy Horn are on the ABC rules committee, but input from active fighters is necessary, too, ideally with their own committee.

One of the main missions for an athletic commission is to be an advocate for the fighter and not just on the health and safety level. As it is now, commissions communicate almost solely with promoters and matchmakers. The fighters need a seat at the table. This might not be as effective as a union or association for the athletes, but it’s a start.

At the very least, regulators need to get in a room with a group of fighters (and maybe coaches and managers) and explain fully the rules changes and the scoring criteria. They need to explain what makes a fighter grounded and the tiered system of scoring.

It’s a crime for someone as intelligent, pro-active and skilled as Cruz to admit that he isn’t clear on how rounds are won. Maybe some kind of fighter summit can be set up, much in the same way the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) held a weight-cutting summit in 2015.

MMA is a billion-dollar sport now. We’ve come too far to continue having misguided conversations about judging and in-cage rules. Fighters (and fans, too) need more than just McCarthy explaining regulations and scoring on Twitter and Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett answering questions at a press conference.

Both of those things are a breath of fresh air. They should be the rule, not the exception.

Source: mmafighting

Kelvin Gastelum on GSP-Bisping: ‘What’s the point of having rankings if we’re not going to follow the rankings?’

Kelvin Gastelum made a roundabout return to middleweight, yet it’s been a fortuitous event.

Having missed weight for his UFC 205 welterweight fight with Donald Cerrone in November, Gastelum was rebooked as a middleweight against Tim Kennedy at UFC 206 the following month. He not only made his reluctant return to 185 pounds, but he scored a third-round TKO over Kennedy and called out Vitor Belfort afterwards.

At UFC Fight Night 106 in Fortaleza, Gastelum got his wish. He fought Belfort in front of a partisan crowd hoping to see him lose. Instead, he scored a first round TKO victory over the Brazilian legend, and tossed yet another name out there as a potential next opponent.

This time, just moments after he took out Belfort, Gastelum said he wouldn’t mind fighting Anderson Silva in Rio de Janeiro in June. Many had wondered if he would declare himself ready for a return to welterweight.

He clarified his request in the post-fight press conference.

“I said I wanted to get an interesting fight at middleweight, and that if I could get an interesting fight at middleweight then I’d say,” he said. “And Anderson’s definitely one of those guys that would interest me to fight.”

Asked why Silva specifically, Gastelum said there were numerous reasons.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said. “He’s a big name, he’s another legend, and he’s ranked above me, and I want to keep moving up the rankings. And I want the fight that will eventually lead me to a title shot.”

Before he defeated Kennedy in December, the 25-year old Gastelum last competed at middleweight at UFC 188 in Mexico City against Nate Marquardt. He won that won via TKO. He also came up as a middleweight through The Ultimate Fighter franchise, having beat Uriah Hall (split decision) at the TUF 17 Finale to win that particular season.

Gastelum still fancies a return to welterweight at some point. He said he if couldn’t get Silva, he would like to receive penultimate fight to a title shot.

“It would have to be against a No. 1 contender,” he said of a potential return. “I believe that I’m one of the best welterweights, and if I go back down it would have to be for a No. 1 contender fight.”

He reiterated that he thinks his best chance at winning a title would occur at 170 pounds, where champion Tyron Woodley is in need of a dance partner.

When asked about the current title picture at 185 pounds, with champion Michael Bisping getting set to face Georges St-Pierre — who is making his return after over three years away — Gastelum said it gave him pause, because the meritocracy is not long what it was.

“A little bit, because what’s the point of having rankings if we’re not going to follow the rankings, or we’re not going to the No. 1 contenders, you know?” he said. “It just doesn’t make any sense. Now everybody wants those big money fights, and it just doesn’t make any sense to have any rankings if we’re going to keep doing that stuff.”

Source: mmafighting

Vitor Belfort confirms his next fight will be his last: ‘My body is not the same anymore’

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Vitor Belfort’s MMA career is coming to an end, and he wants to compete in the last fight of his UFC contract in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The UFC is scheduled to return to Belfort’s hometown of Rio on June 3 with UFC 212, and “The Phenom,” who lost to Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Fight Night 106 in Fortaleza on Saturday night, confirmed at the post-fight press conference that it would be his last fight.

“Yes,” Belfort said when asked if he will retire after his next fight, “unless they create this legends’ division, then we can continue a little longer. But training for five-round fights is too much for the body. I was in great shape, but he connected some good strikes and it was his night.”

“I was well prepared, my team worked hard,” he continued. “It’s frustrating because I was well until one moment, I was confident I was going to get the knockout, and it was the opposite. But that’s it. We need to reinvent ourselves. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. I mean, I hope it’s the last.”

Twenty years after making his UFC debut, Belfort says his body can’t take it anymore.

“It’s time to end this chapter as a professional fighter,” Belfort said. “My body is not the same anymore for training. It’s too much pain. I did more than 14 surgeries. I left everything in the Octagon. I’m sad because I didn’t give the win to my fellow Brazilians, but it happens.”

Belfort said that he had already decided that his next fight would be his last even before facing Gastelum in Fortaleza, and ruled out the idea of rematching Anderson Silva at UFC 212.

“I don’t have any names off the top of my head,” Belfort said. “I just don’t want to fight a Brazilian in Brazil. We have to sit down with the UFC and see which opponent would be an interesting fight. I never turned down fights, always fought the toughest ones in the division, but the last fight has to be special for the fans. Let’s see if that’s possible.”

Source: mmafighting

UFC Fortaleza video recap: Gastelum silences crowd via first round TKO win over Belfort

Kelvin Gastelum picks up a big win over legend Vitor Belfort via a first round stoppage. Kelvin Gastelum left the crowd in attendance in stunned silence when he stopped legend Vitor Belfort. The TUF 17 alum was sharp through the minute of action, winning by via TKO.
What was the high point of the fight?
Even though the entire fight only lasted more than a minute, it was action-packed all-throughout. Both fighters had their moments landing big punches, but it was the younger Gastelum who proved to be better in the exchanges.
Gastelum dropped “The Phenom” twice, with the second one sealing the stoppage victory for him.
Where do these two go from here?
Belfort says he wants to fight out the last fight in his contract in Brazil. It should be the logical move for the 39-year-old Belfort, who is now on his third straight loss.
Gastelum, meanwhile, intends to face Anderson Silva for what he called his “legends ass-whooping tour.” It could prove to be a good match-up for him, given his current momentum, and a victory would be a huge feather in his cap.
Watch it now, later or never?
It was an excellent stand-up fight, which always proves to be a draw for both casuals and hardcore fans.

Our @UltimateFighter champ and headliner picks up a huge W over an all-time legend tonight! Congrats @KelvinGastelum https://t.co/jlKIJbXsWW— FS1 (@FS1) March 12, 2017

Source: bloody